So I’ve just been thinking about Lu’s dogwalk lately. Usually after a break she goes through a bit of an adjustment phase before she’s running normally again. She isn’t running normally yet and in fact I don’t know if I’ve seen that low, flat running for a long while.
When she walks up onto the top plank, she looks terrified. She makes sure she’s standing on the edge of the top and down plank and feels safer there. No wonder she’s not running full speed.
So I was thinking maybe I’ll go back to a lower height with her. Maybe 60cm. Stop competing with her until after the summer break or for a couple of months because, really, what’s another few months, hey? Build up that height again, build up her confidence, build up her speed. During that time I reckon I can work the DW into sequences which she will probably find really fun because it’ll be low and FAST and she can do the sequencey bits fast too. I don’t think she’s currently finding the DW fun. I was also thinking that maybe I could work in soft turns from the get-go with the lower height so that she isn’t worrying so much about them when it’s higher because she will have been practising them this whole time at fast and low. Possibly, if I was feeling brave, I could deviate from Silvia’s method a little and even train the harder turns at a low height as well, but maybe it’s best to wait until I have a REALLY solid DW before that. I just think right now that she’s not putting her all into her dogwalk, and for us, it used to be the 1 reliable place that she’d really RUN. Even her adjustments have gone all weird and I see her lifting one hind foot on the top plank rather than the nice smart adjustments she was making.
I was thinking in terms of rewards that I could reward and be happy with every hit, regardless of speed, but JACKPOT the ones that are FULL SPEED and a hit. If I go back to a straight tunnel (which I can even offset from the dogwalk exit, so although the tunnel is straight, she has to turn after exiting the plank in order to go in it), and then a thrown ball, I should get full speed pretty easily. So maybe what I’ll do is a few sessions like this- straight tunnel at a soft-turn angle with a thrown ball. When I’m getting full speed I could do this dogwalk, tunnel, a few jumps or weaves or something in sequence, and then jackpot. So that idea of “do some stuff after the dogwalk THEN get your reward” isn’t suddenly a thing once she’s at full height again. Then, when the height goes up, repeat that sequence – straight tunnel to thrown ball for a few sessions, then mix in some jumps, etc. And as it gets higher and I don’t need to rely on finding a good starting spot again, I can add in obstacles before the DW, too. And still jackpot only for full-speed running, reward for hits with slower running (depending on entries, too, of course).
That’s my plan. I’m not very good at sticking to ‘doing things gradually’, but I just feel her dogwalk has really, really gone downhill since… I dunno… before her surgery. 9 months ago. So maybe she just needs to go back to somewhere easy and fun and fast, and build back up from there.
Like I said: what’s another few months away from competing?
Sorry for all the posts lately, I’ve gone on a bit of a rampage.